SANTIAGO, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Factbox on World Cup
Form and Prospects
Chile finished third in the South-American qualifiers,
behind Argentina and Colombia, and a great spell in the final
stages turned them into a respected and sometimes feared team
with players such as Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo
Vargas all on top form.
Some former players and analysts believe this could be the
best Chile side ever, with the likes of Sanchez and Vidal and a
tactical discipline not often seen in the team from the far west
of the continent.
Chile won 10 of 15 games played in 2013 and lost just two:
against Peru in the qualifiers in March and this month in a
friendly against their bogey team Brazil.
Among their victories was their excellent 2-0 win over
England at Wembley with a stunning two-goal performance from
This campaign has many Chileans dreaming of going beyond the
last 16, the stage where they said goodbye to the World Cup in
their last two appearances in 1998 and 2010.
Chile were third as hosts in 1962.
Chile have outstanding attacking skills with Sanchez and
Vargas, but coach Jorge Sampaoli must resolve a recurring
problem: an unstable back line that shows fragility when they
play against the big guns.
While goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is sure of his place, the
defence sometimes shows a vulnerability that is the main aspect
Sampaoli must work on if he wants to be the man to take Chile to
the later stages of the competition after a 50 year gap.
In midfield, Eugenio Mena is a regular and played 14 times
in Chile's 15 matches this year. Juventus player Vidal is
another regular and a symbol of the team along with Sanchez.
Coach: Jorge Sampaoli.
The 43-year old coach was hired in December 2012 to replace
fellow Argentine Claudio Borghi.
A two-year spell in charge of local side Universidad de
Chile, winning three league titles and the Copa Sudamericana
(South America's Europa League equivalent), earned him the
respect of the local fans because of his inalienable attacking
game and his confessed admiration for compatriot Marcelo Bielsa,
who took Chile to the last 16 at the 2010 World Cup in South
Sampaoli likes a 3-3-1-3 tactical diagram and his teams have
a tradition of stifling pressing and fast progression on the
pitch. He is a quiet man who gives few exclusive interviews and
has a distant but polite relationship with the press.
His arrival turned Chile from a lopsided team with behaviour
problems into a respected side. After he took command, Chile won
five matches out of seven in the qualifiers, with one draw and
Sampaoli was the mastermind behind the returns to the team
of Jorge Valdivia and David Pizarro after a long absence.
Valdivia was out for almost two years for indiscipline, while
Pizarro came back this year after an eight-year absence.
Key player: Alexis Sanchez
Barcelona forward Sanchez has become a fundamental player
for Chile and after a long drought in 2012, has emerged as the
key player this year.
"El Nino Maravilla" (Wonder boy) Sanchez, 24, scored eight
times this year for Chile, seven in his last eight appearances
with the team.
With him Chile have an enviable weapon that guarantees
goals, explosive attack and a headache prospect for rival
defenders. His attacking skills and vision are a trademark of
the Chilean team.
With his double at Wembley, Sanchez leapfrogged fellow
forward Humberto Suazo and is now fifth in the list of all time
top-scorers for Chile with 22 goals, 15 short of Marcelo Salas.
After the match at Wembley, England forward Wayne Rooney
said: "Sanchez is a great player. He's got everything to be one
of the best players in the world".
How they qualified; 3rd, South American zone
Oct 7 Argentina A L 1-4 Fernandez
Oct 11 Peru H W 4-2 Ponce, Vargas, Medel
Nov 11 Uruguay A L 0-4
Nov 15 Paraguay H W 2-0 Contreras, Campos
Jun 2 Bolivia A W 2-0 Aranguiz, Vidal
Jun 9 Venezuela A W 2-0 Fernandez, Aranguiz
Sept 11 Colombia H L 1-3 Fernandez
Oct 12 Ecuador A L 1-3 og
Oct 16 Argentina H L 1-2 Felipe Gutierrez
March 22 Peru A L 0-1
March 26 Uruguay H W 2-0 Paredes, Vargas
June 7 Paraguay A W 2-1 Vargas, Vidal
June 11 Bolivia H W 3-1 Vargas, Sanchez,
Sep 6 Venezuela H W 3-0 Vargas, Gonzalez,
Oct 11 Colombia A D 3-3 Sanchez 2, Vidal
Oct 15 Ecuador H W 2-1 Sanchez, Medel
World Cup record:
Previous appearances: 8 (1930, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1982,
Best performance: Third 1962
Odds: William Hill odds to win World Cup (Nov 2013): 33-1
(Compiled by Javier Leira, edited by Mike Collett)